Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has lavished praise upon his Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash at White Hart Lane.
The Premier League’s two remaining unbeaten sides meet in north London, with City four points ahead at the summit by virtue of their 100 per cent record from six matches.
Guardiola tangled with Pochettino when they were local rivals as coaches of Barcelona and Espanyol in LaLiga and he is an admirer of Spurs’ progress under the Argentinian.
“I played against Pochettino as a player and then as a coach,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference. “I think he’s one of the best managers in the world – I enjoy watching Tottenham.
“He’s doing an amazing job in London. The way they play I like a lot – they’re aggressive without the ball and has a lot of quality with his players.
“The basis of the team is the national team with [Dele] Alli, [Kyle] Walker, Harry Kane – they have a lot of quality. Last season they were there until the last two or three games to be champions.
“Again this year they’re playing at a high level – they’re in second position so it will be a tough, tough game and I’m looking forward to going to White Hart Lane for the first time in my life. We will try and do our job.”
Guardiola reported a warm relationship between the two men and he sees parallels between Tottenham’s style and the one Pochettino implemented at Espanyol, who beat his Barca 2-1 in 2009.
“All of the fans who like football and watch football can enjoy [Tottenham matches] – they’re proactive, not reactive.
“There are many teams who wait to see what you do and then react – they don’t wait to see what they’re going to do.
“They want to create their own game. That’s why I like them. When I saw the last game against CSKA, against Liverpool, against Middlesbrough, I like what I’m watching.”
While Tottenham were victorious against CSKA in midweek, City were forced to come from behind on three occasions to claim a thrilling 3-3 draw at Celtic in the Champions League – the first time they failed to win under Guardiola’s management.
“Everything is so difficult in football and the Champions League is so demanding,” he reasoned.
“I think they arrived three or four chances, they scored three goals – that’s the Champions League. The players are so focused as they know how special the Champions League is.
“Sometimes they do not arrive at the right moment for the cross – in the Champions League they arrive.
“There were many things – the first goal was offside, the second was an own goal – that’s part of the game. I would prefer to lose points in the Premier League as you have time to make them back but the Champions League is short.”
Vincent Kompany (groin), Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring) and Fabian Delph remain sidelined for the trip to the capital, while Yaya Toure will not be considered for selection once more after Guardiola’s demands for an apology from the player’s outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk.
“[Toure] is training every day with us and training good but I am not talking any more about that case,” he added. “You know my opinion.”